Why Allergen Testing Is Important And How Skin Testing For Allergies Is Done

Allergies can make you feel miserable when your symptoms are hard to control. When you don't know for sure what makes you itch, sneeze, or wheeze, it's difficult to manage your allergies. That's why allergen testing is important. Here's why you should consider being tested for allergies and a look at how it's done.

Why Testing For Allergies Is Helpful

While you might take allergy medications to keep your symptoms under control, a better approach could be to avoid your allergens. To do that, you have to know what they are. If you have severe reactions, you'll want to know what causes them so you can avoid the allergen and protect your health.

For instance, if you learn you have an allergy to cats, you can stay away from cats and manage your allergy better. Since you're exposed to many potential allergens all the time, you may be allergic to things and not be aware of what they are until you're tested.

When you have allergen testing, a doctor usually tests for many allergens so you get comprehensive results showing what could cause your symptoms so you can avoid as many triggers as possible.

How Allergy Testing Is Done

Skin testing is a common type of allergy test, and your doctor may want to start with that, and if necessary do other tests, such as blood testing and food challenges, later if they are needed. Skin testing can involve scratching an allergen on your skin, injecting allergens, or wearing a patch with the allergen on it.

Scratch testing is done in an allergist's office and you'll need to stay in the office in case you have a bad reaction. You'll have multiple substances tested at the same time on your arm or back. Then your skin will be examined for reactions. The presence of a reaction and its severity will be noted.

Testing by injection involves injecting a tiny amount of the allergen under your skin. The allergy tests aren't painful since the needles are small. However, you might have some discomfort with itching if you have a positive result. If you have a reaction, it should happen within several minutes while you're at the allergist's office.

Patch testing doesn't penetrate your skin by scratching or injecting. The results aren't as quick either. You'll wear patches that have allergens on them for a few days and then go back to the doctor to have the patches removed so the doctor can look for reactions on your skin.

These allergen tests are easy to take and they can test for dozens of allergens at once. They'll let you know what common allergies affect you so you can take better control of your symptoms.